Thought I'd start things off with a couple of straightforward questions, would really welcome any thoughts we might have on these issues...

Motivation is described as the 'direction and energisation of behaviour' (Reeve, 2005). How do we as designers direct or energise behaviour?

Is this something that 'design thinkers' should be thinking about?

Views: 95

Replies to This Discussion

Quick answer - if you are in service design or customer experience design, motivation of the guys who will be performing your work is a huge piece of the pie.

The best way so far is to use their ideas, not yours. After all, they are the experts, not you...


Thanks Adam,
I think you are absolutely right, motivation is a huge piece of the pie! :-) Personally, I feel that co-design and collaboration is hugely empowering and motivating as it really promotes user/stakeholder autonomy - one of the fundamentals of motivated behaviour.

I suppose to play devils advocate, is our role as designers and creatives not to come in and 'spark' and 'direct' user's energies a bit, the direction and energisation I mentioned before.

From my own recent (and painful experience) a lot of clients are not ready for that or don't know where to start...

Equally a poorly energised or directed co-design activity or customer experience can have the entirely opposite effect.

I suppose an obvious question then - what is in your experience the most effective way to motivate them to share their ideas and expertise?
Hi Fergus,

I often start by getting them to tell (or often act out - my work is theatrically-based) their own stories about being customers, not service providers. Tales of good experiences and bad ones are both welcome. There is usually a lot of laughter and head-shaking, then we start to think about why they felt good or bad as a customer in those situations.

(Sometimes this wanders off into stories from the "other side" - their view as service providers. If not, I can move focus onto their own workplace now, or after the next step.)

From this, it's a short step to distilling some basic principles, and soon after that we decide that some development tools would be useful...

I think it's very important that I clearly show how I am the guy with no clever answers, just some useful questions.


That's really helpful thanks Adam,
Some of your comments remind me of another discussion that I've had on here with Mark Whiting about considering designers as catalysts, i.e. designed to speed up or slow down the 'process' of design as the situation demands. This is something that I feel is a useful analogy and something that fits well with the organismic theories of human behaviour I've been investigating in my studies.

What strikes me though about how you describe your own work though, is another metaphor - that of the designer as 'director' or either a theatre or film production. Again this is something that I know Jeff Howard has elaborated in his blog and relates to the well versed discussions on designers as screenwriters and storytellers.

This is an area where I feel there is a strong overlap between the existing motivational design materially, mostly aimed at the design children's education resources. This is something that maybe others have more experience and insight on, but also poses the question of how much we as designers can learn from teachers and educationalists in motivating sustained behaviour and creativity.

Thanks for sharing this useful analogy and I agree fully that designers have to play down their own ego and involvement in the process if we are to assist the creation of truly sustainable products and services.

Thanks Ferg,

The parallels with theater are huge - see my blog for more :)

So huge in fact that I call myself an "Experience Director", not an experience designer...

Experience Director
Hi Ferg,

already having to read and catch up. Think what's been said is right on.

Like Adam, when I introduce (as usual I will talk in a service design context) service design, I start with experiences of being a customer, and walking through journeys to make it clear what we're talking about. Everyone loves a good moan about a service they've encountered.

For me, I find I am often the facilitator, intervening at different moments to speed up, slow down and ask the 'right' or perhaps 'devil's advocate' questions during the design process.

The head of my undergrad was a fantastic leader, he is not a designer but a social scientist and always knows how to ask the right questions. Making sure that we are really thinking about who/what/where/when/why we are designing something. I found it very 'motivational', to have someone really questioning my design decisions was fantastic.

To come back to motivation, this is a huge part of being a designer. As part of my masters, and as I have mentioned here and there, my job this year is to help Skills Development Scotland design a toolkit to teach them service design and implement 'service design' at the heart of the organisation (another long post needed to clarify their own terminology), but I feel that already, and at a guess (I've just started the course) that most of my work will be encouraging the skills needed 'to be' a designer and work through the design process. We're talking generally about being more creative, encouraging people to be visual, even things I take for granted like being comfortable with drawing and pinning it up on a wall. I was met in a meeting last week with, "But I can't draw" If my stick men are anything to go by, everyone can draw!

I find the motivational part as important, if not more than the understanding of design techniques and tools used along a process. It's about convincing and making people believe that they have the ability to create, to invent, to become designers. It's about giving the suits the felt tip pens but making them believe they are truly capable of innovation. Throw a question in the bargain...can they design effective products and services without design practitioners?

Ok so I've warbled again, I'm sure there is something poignant in there... :)
NEW DISCUSSION: "Any stakeholder using or designing products or services will need to be able to identify, model and measure motivation, or any other form of human behaviour, if they want to change it?"
Kes Sampanthar has been writing / speaking / doing motivational design for a few years fact I think he's wrapping a book this quarter or next. I'm not sure if he's the very first to use the term or not, but he's certainly the one who's most invested in it that I know of.


Robert Fabricant at frog has been talking about interaction design being design for behavior (and influencing behavior) for a few years now too...


Discussion Forum

Motivation and Design

Started by Fergus Bisset. Last reply by Jess McMullin Mar 17, 2011. 8 Replies




© 2018   Created by Arne van Oosterom.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service


Live Video